The Twilight Zone Episode 104: The Thirty Fathom Grave

General Information

Director: Perry Lafferty

Writer: Rod Serling

Cast: Mike Kellin, Simon Oakland, David Sheiner, John Considine, Billy Bixby, Conlan Carter, Forrest Compton, Henry Scott, Tony Call, Charles Kuenstle, Derrik Lewis, Vince Bagetta, and Louie Elias

Composer: None (Stock Music)

Air Date: 1/10/1963

Production Code: 4857



The Twilight Zone The Thirty Fathom GraveA U.S. Navy ship encounters a submarine that, though supposedly destroyed during World War II, emanates a hammering sound from the ocean floor. While investigating the noise, Captain Beecham (Simon Oakland) must deal with the nervous breakdown of Chief Bell (Mike Kellin)—apparently connected to the drowned submarine.

“The Thirty Fathom Grave” benefits from realistic performances and fear-building devices of a paranormal variety. Nevertheless, this episode (along with almost every season four installment) is marred by an excessive running time.



For its eerie execution of many classic ghost tale tropes, “The Thirty Fathom Grave” should be commended by fans of the supernatural horror genre. In the The Twilight Zone The Thirty Fathom Gravefirst act, for example, the clanging of metal inside a wrecked submarine—now lost at sea for over twenty years—serves to plant a terrifying suggestion in the viewer’s mind. Similarly disquieting are the more explicit hauntings featured in the final act, which, by displaying a group of phantoms in the mirror of a disturbed crewman, offers a shocking—albeit deliberately ambiguous—conclusion to the slow, suspenseful build-up of the early scenes.



“The Thirty Fathom Grave” deserves criticism for its copious narrative padding—likely a consequence of the hour-long format of this episode. EspeciallyThe Twilight Zone The Thirty Fathom Grave tedious are the repetitive diving sequences and superfluous exposition contained in this offering, which heavily detract from the subtlety of Rod Serling’s premise.



Actor Mike Kellin should be praised for his performance, the tormented qualities of which may draw attention to the effects of PTSD—here depicted in the form of survivor guilt.


Concluding Comments

Combining horror clichés with a nautical setting, “The Thirty Fathom Grave” will appeal to those who enjoy The Twilight Zone for its ominous situations. Viewers may, however, take issue with this episode for its languid pacing, which weakens the impact of an otherwise spooky and memorable twist ending.


Overall Quality: 7/10


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